Sexual minorities are at increased risk for multiple mental health burdens compared with heterosexuals. The field has identified 2 distinct determinants of this risk, including group-specific minority stressors and general psychological processes that are common across sexual orientations. The goal of the present article is to develop a theoretical framework that integrates the important insights from these literatures. The framework postulates that (a) sexual minorities confront increased stress exposure resulting from stigma; (b) this stigma-related stress creates elevations in general emotion dysregulation, social/interpersonal problems, and cognitive processes conferring risk for psychopathology; and (c) these processes in turn mediate the relationship between stigma-related stress and psychopathology. It is argued that this framework can, theoretically, illuminate how stigma adversely affects mental health and, practically, inform clinical interventions. Evidence for the predictive validity of this framework is reviewed, with particular attention paid to illustrative examples from research on depression, anxiety, and alcohol-use disorders.
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